A terrible piece of news was announced to us this morning while writing a test. An unidentified gunman opened fire on two separate occasions today, killing one person at Ambler Johnston and several more at Norris Hall. The current fatality count stands at
22 â€” now updated to 32 â€” this is absolutely, positively horrifying, especially for a rural campus like Virginia Tech.
The campus has been plagued by law-and-order trouble most of last year; we had two bomb threats for buildings on campus, on April 2 and April 13 (just two days before today's shootout!). On both occasions, the respective buildings were immediately evacuated and all events suspended until police could conduct a more thorough inspection of each building. Following the last threat on Friday, the three buildings were closed until Sunday night. The university sent a campus-wide email Sunday evening that those buildings would open at 7:00am Monday and all events scheduled for today would resume.
So we went off at 9:00am, right after the first shooting. At that time, if we had known about the first incident that occurred at 7:15am, we sure as hell wouldn't have ventured out. We only heard about it later, some time around 9:26am, via email from the University. While we were on the bus to campus, it was probably exactly that time that the killer moved from Ambler Johnston Hall to Norris Hall, where the second shoutout occurred. Most of the fatalities occurred at the second shooting. If that could have been prevented â€” oh well, hindsight is always 20/20.
The first email from the University asked us to stay indoors, lock the doors, and away from windows. The second one told us that the campus was being evacuated, and we should leave the building as soon as possible. We left at around 11:30am from Whittemore hall, and a classmate offered to drop us back home. The status of the Blacksburg Transit bus service was not known.
The real shock came when we reached home, because accurate information about the happenings of the morning was not available until after President Steger's statement released at noon. The sheer number of fatalities and injuries â€” 22 dead, 21 injuries â€” was mind-boggling. It is expected that the death toll may rise as more information is available.
Or should we just expect the National Rifle Association to convene at Blacksburg later this month? If you don't know what I'm talking about, please see Michael Moore's documentary, Bowling for Columbine. I've written about this topic before: it's high time someone does something about this.
22 32 innocent lives lost, not to mention all the victims over the years, is reason enough to do something about the root of the problems, the easy availability of guns.
This blog entry was posted before we learned that Minal Panchal was missing. After we heard, most of us have been on campus or at Montgomery Regional Hospital trying to locate her.